A Little Journey to Vantine's

Booklet courtesy of anonymous collector.

A Little Journey to Vantine's

by Elbert Hubbard, 1911

This booklet measures 6" x 4" and has 19 pages. From what I can find Vantines was a well known New York City importing house that specialized in Jewelry and Art Deco metal imports in the 20's and 30s. What exactly it imported in 1911 I have not yet ascertained. Interestingly, Vantine's was purchased in the 20's by Arnold Rothstein an early mob drug dealer.

Side Bar History:

In the mid-1920s, Arnold Rothstein saw illegal drugs as an untapped field, one that could be developed and profited from. The drug traffic was unorganized and there was little competition on the level Rothstein chose to enter. In fact, the only competition at that time was provided by unethical doctors. Rothstein’s plan was to purchase and sell in quantities so large that no one could compete with him. He could regulate supply and demand on an international basis. In 1923, a kilo of heroin, 2.2 pounds, could be purchased for $2,000. It could then be cut and resold for $300,000.

     Rothstein’s interest in narcotics was strictly for wholesaling. He would need a network to sell the drugs and the rum running and bootlegging market already in existence would serve as his pipeline. Lucky Luciano and Waxey Gordon were in place in New York City and New Jersey. The Torrio – Capone Empire was interested in Chicago. Charles “King” Soloman was ready in Boston, as well as Harry “Nig Rosen” Stromberg in Philadelphia. In addition, mobsters in Detroit, Kansas City and St. Louis showed an interest.

     Among the buyers Rothstein decided to do business with was Jacob Katzenberg, who was already serving the New York mob as a liquor buyer in Europe. When Katzenberg teamed up with Rothstein in 1926, they began purchasing from European sources. Rothstein purchased “Vantines,” a well-established importing house in New York City. The importing house had an excellent reputation and was known as a legitimate enterprise. When shipments arrived for them, customs officials gave their merchandise only a cursory search. Vantine’s would become a perfect front for the smuggling operation. Rothstein also owned several art galleries and antique shops that would also serve as fronts.

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